Drive just 50 miles north of Los Angeles, you’ll not only find sprawling farmland, beautiful beaches and gorgeous oak trees, but a county experiencing its craft beer hockey stick moment. Four to five years ago, you wouldn’t find many craft beer breweries in Ventura County. It’s now a full-fledged beer destination.
In May, Joby M. Yobe and the rest of the Barrelhouse 101 team will be celebrating their 6th Anniversary. The “OG” Ventura beer bar and restaurant has been educating Ventura on craft beer through their 107 taps. They rotate twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. When they opened, Surf Brewing, Island Brewing and Anacapa Brewing were the only local breweries.
“Forever, this was known as Corona, Coors Light territory. When we got rid of any Corona, Coors Light macro, people were pissed.”
Jobe even got flack for serving beers in the proper glassware.
“I’m not drinking beer out of a fucking tulip!”
Ojai Beverage Company opened in 2007, back when the available beers were Red Hook, Pyramid and Firestone DBA, to name a few. Jobe and his cousin, Jorge Alem, own OBC and often work together to offer great craft beers. And they typically will host classes or small brewery specific events monthly.
Casa Agria Specialty Ales is a boutique brewery, focusing on mixed fermentation farmhouse style ales, barrel aged wild ales, and Northeast style India pale ales. Their beers uses fruit direct from the local farms and is expressive of the Ventura County culture. Try their outstanding American Wild Ale, Pinot de la Casa, which ages their Saison de la Casa in freshly dumped Pinot Noir wine barrels from Casa Baranca Organic Winery in Ojai, CA.
Concrete Jungle Brewing Project is a brewery and tasting room in Ventura on Market Street. The grand opening was October 14, 2017. Concrete Jungle bought the Surf Brewery facility. Surf Brewery was the first packaging craft microbrewery in Ventura County CA, when opened June 2011. Formerly located in Los Angeles, Concrete Jungle moved into the former Surf Brewery location and have expanded their beer style offerings.
Darryl Levi is a friend of mine that I asked to write an article for me in my blog, www.TheBeerGoddess.com. I sent him to the Orange County Beer Festival in 2010 and he got the bug for craft, which led him to homebrewing, then buying a bar in Camarillo. “Darryl’s Couch” was born.
Darryl’s Couch was the first craft beer pub in the county, having opened in Sept of 2012. Levi offers 11 taps including one nitro, focusing on designated craft as determined by the Brewers Association, which includes breweries like Firestone, Five Threads, Made West and Three Weavers. He’s currently holding an IPA competition every Wednesday with three single IPAs from local Ventura County breweries.
Enegren Brewing is not out to chase beer trends. Since 2011, the Moorpark brewery has been focusing on German style lagers. They were the second packaging brewery in Ventura County by just a month. Chris loves the style because of their versatility and complexity.
“I want to push the boundaries in craft beer and not just offer the same thing everyone else is doing.”
Enegren started homebrewing in 2014, as an engineering major at Loyala Marymont. Enegren took his knowledge about control systems and programming and built his own automated 15-barrel, European style homebrew system. Chris has installed brewing systems at Garage Project in New Zealand, Fremont Brewing in Seattle and Fall Brewing in San Diego, to name just a few. And he’s applied the best of his engineering and brewing knowledge in his own brewery. Their tanks are named after the breweries moms, wives and daughters. And their custom brewing system is named after a Viking shieldmaiden and ruler from what is now Norway. This ”Lagertha” will have produced a Maibock and single hop pilsner by the time this article is published. And all of their beers are brewed with natural carbonation. The smart brewery gets 100% of their carbonation through spunding. Enegren produced 2,000 barrels last year and will be installing a canning machine in mid-April.
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.'s Westlake Village taproom features a rotating list of specialty and cask beers and an artisanal menu featuring fresh gastropub fare. Try their Agua Santa Negra, a 5.1% ABV Mexican-Style Dark Lager, their Deisui Suru, an 8.0% ABV Japanese Imperial Lager or their English style India Pale Ale, a 2017 GABF silver medal winner, Hoppy Poppy IPA.
Did you know that a “thread” is a term sometimes used when blending two or more beers together? Located on Via Colinas in Westlake Village, Five Threads Brewing Company has been brewing since October 2015. You’ll find various styles like Heidi, their Bavarian Hefeweizen, Red, a Nelson Red Rye IPA and High Gear, their Mocha Oatmeal Stout.
Fluid State is already making waves with their awesome selection of craft beer and craft, organic pizzas. Since May of 2017, the restaurant/beer bar has impressed locals and beach town visitors alike with their authentic offerings.
“We feel like there’s something to be said for having a business that’s based on friendships and relationships, not based on what is trendy. A lot of the beer that we have here tends to be – it just so happens to be breweries that are on the cutting edge – but that’s not the main reason we have them on tap. The main reason we have them on tap is because we have relationships with these guys. We’ve known them for years.”
Aaron Duncan and Jen Schwertman want to support those authentic breweries in the industry.
Some of the beers offered are the smaller, independent breweries that don’t yet distribute. Jen has been in the beer and bar world since the fall of 1992, having started at Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver. Aaron started homebrewing about 15 years ago in Santa Cruz and then opened a craft centric restaurant in 2007. He then started working for Ninkasi Brewing, helping to launch Ninkasi down the coast from Santa Cruz to north Los Angeles, which eventually brought him to Santa Barbara. Jen and Aaron met at the Great American Beer Festival in 2010, and eventually joined forces to create Fluid State.
The redwood bar, Chicago made steakhouse barstools and the big horseshoe bar help make Fluid State casual, social and meaningful. You won’t find tv’s, but you’ll find a fantastic deck and 24 taps.
14 Cannons is a production brewery and showroom, which opened in October 2017. Located in Westlake Village, the brewery features nine taps with beers like Spice Island Chai Tea Brown Ale and Slippery Deck Imperial IPA.
Institution Ale Company opened in 2014 and is producing excellent, clean beers like their 7.5% ABV West Coast IPA, Institution IPA. Or, try their new Double Dry Hopped Institution IPA, their flagship IPA double dry hopped with Columbus, Mosaic, Simcoe and Centennial hops. Restraint is a 6.0% ABV Maple Brown Ale with notes of nuttiness, chocolate, roasted coffee, maple sweetness and woodsy dryness. Institution recently expanded from 12,800 sq./ft to nearly 29,000 sq. ft. proving the quality of their brews.
Ladyface Alehouse is the first microbrewery in the Conejo Valley and produces award-winning Belgian, French and American style ales, on site. Since late 2009, they’ve been serving beautiful Biere de Garde’s like their 7.5% ABV Dérailleur®.
Try their divine Golden Farmhouse ale, Trébuchet®, which was created with Ladyface’s Chaparral Saison brewed with honey from bees foraging on the local mountain sage scrub habitat and then ages in California Sauvignon Blanc barrels with Lactobacillus for over a year. Their seasonally-inspired European bistro-style menu - featuring its ales in many recipes - is also not to be missed.
Leashless Brewing is an eight month old certified organic brewery located on Thompson Blvd. in a 1930s-era building. Their V-Town IPA shines with navel orange and mangos. Their Tri-Fin Tripel is a classic Trappist with hints of black pepper and fruity yeast giving off notes of citrus and apricot.
MadeWest Brewing Co. is run by Ventura natives, which shows through their community involvement and mindedness. Founded in 2014, in the heart of Ventura, you may find some exceptional beers like their On The Juice, a hazy double IPA loaded with Galaxy, Citra and Ekuanot hops or Prospect, a Vanilla Coffee Porter, dosed with whole Madagascar Vanilla beans and 100 lbs. of single origin coffee beans roasted by Prospect Coffee Roasters, also in Ventura.
Head over to Davy Jones' Locker where Brian Oliver has been serving quality beers since 2014. Poseidon Brewing Company has been serving tasty DIPA’s, Brown and Cascadian dark ales and Imperial Chocolate Oatmeal Stouts since 2014. They quickly lived up to their mantra, “Ales With Depth.”
Smoke Mountain is a boutique farm brewery located on top of Rincon Mountain, bordering Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The hops, barley, produce and herbs are all grown locally, on their farm. While they have no taproom, the beer club is popular among locals – which can be mailed or enjoyed at their “Pick Up Parties.” You may also find some distributed locally, by visiting their social media pages.
Founder & CEO, Ali Zia is bringing is beer background and expertise from Newbury Park’s Bottle & Pint to the future Thousand Oaks brewery, Tarantula Hill Brewery. Bottle & Pint is a craft beer exclusive bottle shop, taproom and retail shop that opened in Newbury Park three years ago.
Tarantula Hill Brewery will be opening likely in two phases, with the brew-side of the building opening first – around October. They will start with festivals and select tastings. Around December, they will start serving not just the beer, but artisan pizzas and small batch ice-cream. Speaking of deliciousness, keep a look out for guest chef beer dinners, beer & ice-cream pairings and artisan coffee, all with the idea of pairing and enjoying together.
John Edney will be managing the restaurant, including the super-premium ice-cream. The first brewery in Thousand Oaks will appropriately be located on Thousand Oaks Blvd., exact location to be announced March 1st. The Thousand Oaks High School, class of ’91 natives want to incorporate the town as much as possible, using local ingredients and naming beers after local landmarks. The brewer – who’s yet to be revealed – has a over a decade of experience at one of the biggest breweries in the country. Ali and the team at Tarantula Hill know what craft beers the locals are gravitating to from serving them at Bottle & Pint, and so you likely see some IPAs, big stouts and some crisp lagers – among other styles.
Twisted Oak Tavern has made some awesome contributions to the VC beer scene since 2015, featuring beer from their in-house brewery, The LAB Brewing Co. Located in Agoura Hills, it was even voted best beer bar in California in 2016 by CraftBeer.com. Brewmaster, Roger Bott has been brewing beer for over 20 years and has taken the gold in two Casa Pacifica Beer Festivals. With a heavier focus on IPAs and Belgian ales, Twisted Oak features 32 taps showcasing around six of their own award-winning beer.
Topa Topa opened in June 2015 and has built their brewery on three core values; quality, craftsmanship and community spirit. They make beer that they like to drink. Jack is CEO & cofounder of Topa Topa, Kyle Thomson is CFO/COO and cofounder and cofounder Casey Harris brews their delicious brews. They typically have about 12-18 beers on tap, where 70% of production is Chief Peak IPA. Look for double IPAs, barrel aged beers and their “Solitude Series,” their single hop series, which is a taproom special that showcases a new hop every two months. And they’re doing so well, they opened their second taproom in Santa Barbara in October 2017. And look out for a third location in Ojai, adding a food element to the mix.
“As new breweries open, I think it’s human nature for people to think, ‘oh man, is that going to hurt your business?’ and we’ve just gotten busier and busier with every single brewery that’s opened. We love it…we think that spirit kinda’ sets us up for success.”
Jack also credits the newer craft beer drinkers in the area and their culinary curiosity.
“People just sort of skipped over Ventura and Santa Barbara area, and I think that’s changed now. We hope to change it with such a diverse, stylistically group of breweries.”
Their goals for 2018 are expanding, to simply make more beer and increase efficiency.
Many of the breweries in the county – including Topa Topa – have recently joined the Central Coast Brewers Guild, where Dyer sits on the board. The guild has expanded to include Ventura County, now with over 50 members. There is a Southcoast Chapter and the Northcoast Chapter.
Ventura Coast Brewing Company is proving that a taproom model with approachable beer, a nice patio in a great downtown location just works. They opened October 2016 and is selling a good number of lagers, hoppy pilsner and increasingly their new sours. Kyle thinks the beer culture has changed and grown even in just the past two-three years.
“I don’t think anyone really directly looks at anybody as a direct competitor. Even in distribution, where handles are getting a little bit tighter, it’s all culture growth at this point…the more the merrier,” said Kyle Thille, founder of VCBC.
Kyle and head brewer, Dan White (former head brewer at Smog City) wants to introduce new styles to the community, on an elevated and balanced level. They’ve started a tiered barrel program, separating those entry level sours and also offering wood-aged beers.
Westlake Brewing Company serves craft beers and live music on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Play on their old-school pinball machines and a regulation shuffle board table.
Venice, CA—After three years of anticipation, Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s new Propagator campus in Venice, California will open its doors in April, with limited evening hours starting on April 7 before expanding into daily lunch service in May. The Propagator is located at 3205 Washington Boulevard near the corner of Washington and Lincoln.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Abby Berman Cohen (on behalf of the Brewers Association)
Brewers Association Lists Top 50 Breweries of 2015
Boulder, CO • April 5, 2016 – The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade group representing small and independent craft brewers—today released its annual lists of the top 50 craft and overall brewing companies in the U.S., based on beer sales volume. Of the top 50 overall brewing companies, 43 were craft brewing companies.¹
“The top U.S. brewers continue to drive demand, growth, innovation and exponential interest in beers from small and independent brewers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “With a historic record number of breweries in U.S., the top brewers continue to open new markets and expose beer drinkers to a variety of fuller-flavored styles and offerings.”
(Based on 2015 beer sales volume*)
The Association's full 2015 industry analysis, which shows regional trends and sales by individual breweries, will be published in the May/June issue of The New Brewer,available in May 2016.
For additional statistics, see the Brewers Association’s annual craft brewing industry growth report for 2015.
1 Figure based on companies that met craft brewer definition for all or part of 2015. An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional. Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.
2Top 50 Overall U.S. Brewing Companies notes: (a) includes 10 Barrel, Bass, Beck’s, Blue Point, Bud Light, Budweiser, Busch, Golden Road (partial year) Goose Island, Elysian (partial year) Landshark, Michelob, Rolling Rock, Shock Top and Wild Series brands. Does not include partially owned Coastal, Craft Brew Alliance, Fordham, Kona, Old Dominion, Omission, Red Hook and Widmer Brothers brands; (b) includes A.C. Golden, Batch 19, Blue Moon, Colorado Native, Coors, Keystone, Killian’s, Leinenkugel’s, Miller, Saint Archer (partial year), and Tenth & Blake brands; (c) includes Pabst, Schlitz, Small Town, and 28+ other brand families; (d) includes Alchemy & Science and Sam Adams brands. Does not include Twisted Tea or Angry Orchard brands; (e) includes Dundee, Genesee, Labatt Lime, Magic Hat and Pyramid brands; (f) includes Kona, Omission, Red Hook and Widmer Brothers brands; (g) full year volume; craft rank reflects pro-rated volume due to sale of stake to Heineken (h) includes BridgePort, Shiner and Trumer brands; (i) includes Bell’s and Upper Hand brands; (j) includes Mountain Crest and 10 other brand families as well as export volume; (k) includes Sleeman and Sapporo brands as well as export volume; (l) volume will be pro-rated in 2016 data set due to sale to Constellation Brands; (m) will be part of control group with Duvel Moortgat USA starting in 2016; (n) includes Utah Brewers Cooperative and Perrin Brewing Company brands, will include Cigar City brands starting in 2016; (o) includes Boulevard and Ommegang brands; (p) includes Flying Bison, Saranac and Utica Club brands; (q) includes James Page, Point and Whole Hog brands; (r) includes Grain Belt and Schell’s brands; (s) includes Long Trail, Otter Creek, The Shed and Wolaver’s brands; (t) includes Casco Bay, Sea Dog and Shipyard brands; (u) includes Iron City and 17 other brand families.
About the Brewers Association
The Brewers Association is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The Brewers Association (BA) represents more than 70 percent of the brewing industry, and its members make more than 99 percent of the beer brewed in the U.S. The BA organizes events including the World Beer CupSM, Great American Beer Festival®, Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America®, SAVOR℠: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, Homebrew Con, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer magazine and its Brewers Publications division is the largest publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers and homebrewers.
The Brewers Association is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital/familial status. The BA complies with provisions of Executive Order 11246 and the rules, regulations, and relevant orders of the Secretary of Labor.
I recently rented out my room through AirBNB to a Smog City Brewery employee. Located in Torrance, the five-year-old brewery quickly developed a cult following for its quality crafted and flavorful beers.
This wasn’t coincidental and I was giddy when he brought a dozen of their delicious stouts, IPAs and sours. That same weekend, I stayed in La Quinta at Jim Lefebvre’s house. Yep, I sipped on some Hoptonic IPA with a baseball legend.
Get ready for the premier Cask Festival in Southern California, Firkfest 3.0!
- 30 Breweries
- 50 Casks
- 4 Hours
- Unlimited Pours
Rhythm, Wine & Brews Experience returns for 2016 with an amazing line up of bands, wine and brews.
Live music, California craft beer and wine will create a backdrop in Indio at the scenic Empire Polo Club. This year, 311, Matisyahu, Dream Club, Insecure Alex, The Bellrays, and Long Duk Dong are joining 21 wineries and 48 breweries in Indio for the 5th annual Rhythm Wine & Brews Festival.
Kevin Olsen runs Adam’s Bottle Boutique in Redondo Beach and is the RWB beer curator.
“This year, we have more unique selection of breweries, some a little less mainstream, so some smaller breweries – more artisanal and craft driven. Last year, we definitely took a step in that direction.
Belching Beaver came out this year. Strand Brewing, Ritual Brewing which is a little closer - a local Inland Empire brewery. Those are new additions this year…Bells is coming out to the California distribution scene.”
And lucky for us, Alpine is getting their toes wet in Riverside County for the first time.
Find out more about the breweries that will be rockin’ this year’s Rhythm Wine & Brews.
- 10 Barrel Brewing: Darling favorite in Oregon and multiple Great American Beer Festival Winner medal winner. They have brewpubs in Boise, Portland and Bend. 10 Barrel’s main working brewery is also located in Bend.
- Anchor Brewing Company: This brewery is dripping with history. Anchor began during the California Gold Rush. Anchor Brewing were the first to produce steam beer, effervescent beer now labeled California common beer. Anchor is the only steam brewing company still in operation.
- Ace Cider: Did you know cider is fantastic to cook with? Use Ace cider in place of champagne to lighten up your dishes. Try Ace Apple with your next pork dish!
- Ballast Point: This San Diego brewery is a homebrewers fairytale come true. Founder Jack White opened Home Brew Mart in 1992, after wanting more quality and unique brewing ingredients as a homebrewer. Ballast Point opened their “back room” brewery behind the shop in 1996. They are now brewers of the deliciously famous Grapefruit Sculpin. And in November, the UCLA students, turned brewery owners sold to Constellation Brands for $1 billion.
- Sierra Nevada: Ken Grossman, the Godfather of craft, opened a homebrew supply store in Chico in 1976. He purchased whole cone hops from Yakima hop brokers directly and began brewing his now infamous hop-forward beers. He launched Sierra Nevada Brewing three years later.
- Green Flash Brewing: Green Flash opened Cellar 3 last year, a new tasting room and specialty brewing facility in Poway. The facility focuses on innovation through barrel-aging and wild yeast experimentation. When not sipping something sour, try their Soul Style American IPA. Citra, Simcoe and Cascade hops are layered, giving it tropical and sherbert flavors. It’s a perfect warm weather beer.
- Breckenridge Brewery: Colorado’s third craft brewery began at the hands of a ski bum homebrewer in 1990. Today, you can find their beers in 32 states. And in true outdoorsy form, the brewery put nitro in cans late last year. What’s better than craft in a can and a nitro tap? Yep, Breckenridge’s new line of nitrogen-carbonated canned beer. Their Nitro Series in four-packs started with Nitro Vanilla Porter and Nitro Lucky U IPA.
- Three Weavers Brewing Company: The female-run brewery is Los Angeles’ second successfully funded brewery Kickstarter campaign. Brewmaster, Alexandra Nowell was the former lead brewer at Drakes and won two GABF bronze medals for her Session beer and German-Style Kolsch while brewmaster at Kinetic Brewing Company in Lancaster.
- Goose Island Brewing: Goose Island's brands are sold in 24 states and parts of Europe thanks to the Anheuser-Busch InBev deal in 2011. While craft beer geeks across the country cried in their beers over the deal, their Bourbon County Stout has remained world class.
- Coachella Valley Brewing Company: CVB, as we locals like to call them, answers the call for a bigger selection of sophisticated and modern beers here in the valley. Head brewmaster and part owner, Chris Anderson, is also a graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage Culinary program. Using unique fruits and spices, Anderson brews using local ingredients. CVB started a sour program in 2015 and their Profligate Society features sours like the Cabernet barrel aged Epineux Poire prickly pear wild ale.
- New Belgium Brewing: This is one of the coolest breweries on the planet. The New Belgium folks not only advocate for beer, they advocate for the planet. They are so sustainable; they became a Certified B Corporation in 2013. Tour de Fat is New Belgium’s traveling party of all thinks bicycle. In every Tour de Fat city, one awesome role model will step on stage to trade in his or her car keys and pledge to live car free for one year. Oh, and the brewery is now 100% employee owned.
- Black Market Brewing: Black Market launched the craft movement in Temecula’s wine country. They recently brewed a Rum Matured Deception with Pineapple on cask. The “normal” Deception is a coconut lime blonde ale. Black Market releases a new beer on Cask Night every Monday.
- Founders Brewery: If you haven’t fallen in love with Founders, you don’t have a heart. This brewery is ranked in the top breweries in the world by Ratebeer.com for the last five years. If you haven’t tried their Breakfast Stout, you haven’t lived.
- Speakeasy Ales and Lager: Speakeasy hales from San Francisco. Last year, a new 60 barrel brewhouse, malt handling system, fermenters, centrifuge and canning line were installed. Production capacity increased to 90,000 barrels per year.
- Bootleggers Brewery: Orange County craft beer darlings, Bootleggers was established in 2008 by husband and wife Aaron and Patricia Barkenhagen. They brew the popular Mint Chocolate Porter, perfect to sip during the holidays.
- Firestone Walker Brewing Co.: I can’t say enough good things about Firestone. And neither could GABF last year. Firestone took a silver for their Feral One in the Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale category. They also brought home two bronzes for their Hammersmith IPA in the English-Style India Pale Ale category and their Sour Opal in the Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer categories. Then, Firestone was awarded golds for their Pivo in the German-Style Pilsener and their DBA in the Ordinary or Special Bitter categories. So, it only made sense that they were awarded the Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year award.
- Bell’s Brewery: Bell’s was founded by Larry Bell as a home brewing supply shop in 1983. They ranked eighth in total volume of all domestic craft brewers in the U.S. for 2010.
- Barley Forge Brewery: They were recently awarded “Best Brewery” in the OC Weekly in 2015. Barley Forge specializes in Belgian, West Coast and German-style beers.
- Brew Rebellion: This brewery is true to its name. Brew Rebellion brews beer in quantities of 30 to 50 gallons at a time. That means an awesome rotating tap list and more specialty beers.
- Coedo Brewery: Japan: Coeda beers are named after five classic Japanese hues. Coeda honors traditions. The brewers allow the first sip of beer to fall to the ground, from the tanks, as a tribute to the brewmasters who came before them. They’ve won awards in the World Beer Cup, European Beer Star and International Taste & Quality Institute. Their mission? Beer beautiful.
- Einstock Brewing: is located just 60 miles south of the Arctic circle in the fishing port of Akureyri, Iceland. All Einstök beers are 100% vegan, with no GMOs.
- Clown Shoes: Funny name, great beer. The craft beer industry is a fun bunch and produces amazing beer, all while being a little crazy. One example is their American Black Ale dubbed “Lubrication.” The label features a robot at a gas station holding a pump handle in his groin vicinity. Fun tidbit: the artist is a woman. And the Clown Shoes story isn’t your typical one. This brand came as a result of a liquor store loving beer so much that the owner decided to brew a line of their own. Clown Shoes contract brews through Mercury Brewing Company in Massachusetts.
- Hangar 24 Craft Brewery: At the end of a dusty road, with the San Bernardino Mountains serving as a backdrop; Hangar 24 is named after the hangar where owner Ben Cook—a licensed pilot—and his friends would relax after a day of flying. Fun fact: Hangar 24’s main brew house came by way of Las Vegas’ Monte Carlo Casino.
- Pizza Port Brewing: Pizza Port serves delicious craft beer in Solana Beach, Carlsbad, San Clemente and Ocean Beach. Each of Pizza Port’s four San Diego County brewpubs won at least one GABF medal last year. The original Solana Beach location won Great American Beer Festival “Small Brewpub of the Year” in 2003. In 2009, they won nine medals at GABF and the Carlsbad location was named “Large Brewpub of the Year.” Simply, Pizza Port rocks.
- Mission Brewery: Mission Brewery was originally established in 1913. See Acoustic Ales below. Like most breweries of the time, they went out of business during the first year of Prohibition. The revived Mission Brewery is now in the East Village in downtown San Diego in the historic Wonder Bread Building. As I always say, beer is food.
- King Harbor Brewing Company: was the first production brewery in Redondo Beach. Last June they opened the Waterfront Tasting Room, joining Los Angeles craft beer bar icon, Naja’s Place, on the International Boardwalk.
- Belching Beaver Brewing: This is a dog friendly brewery in North Park, San Diego. Their Beavers Milk, Milk Stout took a gold medal at the World Beer Championships in 2014 and 2015. Their Dammed! Double IPA also took a gold at the World Beer Championships in 2014.
- Strand Brewing: Torrance’s first production brewery has grown so much since 2009, it moved to Old Torrance last October. Now, Strand Brewing, Monkish Brewing, The Dudes Brewing and Smog City Brewing are all within walking or a short Uber ride distance from each other. Cool.
- Deschutes Brewing: Deschutes is awesome and it’s family owned and operated. They even set up an employee stock ownership program in 2013 so employees can own a percentage of the company. If you try anything from Deschutes, try The Abyss. It’s a world class, 12% ABV imperial stout.
- Alpine Brewing: You probably already know Green Flash and Alpine merged in 2014. Green Flash is about 20 times larger than Alpine. Apine’s IPA popularity couldn’t meet the demand. Now they can.
- Angel City Brewing: Angel City has a special place in my heart. When I first started writing about beer in 2008, I met Michael Bowe, the founder of Angel City. He’s since sold it and is sailing around the world. But it continues to thrive in downtown Los Angeles, bringing old-world craft brewing to the new expanding Arts District.
- Ironfire Brewing Company: John Maino and Greg Webb met at Ballast Point in San Diego and decided to start their own brewery in Temecula. Ironfire was born in 2012.
- Barrelhouse Brewing Co.: BarrelHouse not only has fantastic beers (& sours!), but beautiful views from their inviting Central Coast patio. They just announced their 2016 Curly Wolf. This Maple Vanilla Bourbon Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout has been a crowd favorite in Paso.
- Rock Brothers Brewing: Music and beer are this brewery’s mantra. Creating custom brews for bands is their focus. And no surprise, they (along with Nebraska Brewing Company and Cigar City Brewing) made 311’s Amber Ale beer possible.
- La Quinta Brewing They opened their doors in the fall of 2013 in the Coachella Valley. And after much success and popularity, they recently opened a brewpub in Old Town La Quinta.
- Elysian Brewing: Elysian was founded in Seattle in 1995. Try their Avatar Jasmine IP brewed with died jasmine flowers.
- Golden Road Brewing: All of their beers are delivered in cans. Canned beers stay fresher longer without light oxidation and they are better for the environment. Anheuser-Busch Inbev acquired Los Angeles’ largest craft brewer last September.
- Babe’s Bar-B-Que & Brewhouse: The Rancho Mirage BBQ restaurant and brewhouse was founded by the Marie Callender’s founder, Don Callender. Don had a passion for craft beer and opened two small breweries in 1998 and 1999. Babe’s later opened in April of 2002. In 2014, their Belgian Vanilla Blonde Ale took a gold at the Great America Beer Festival.
- Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment: Acoustic started brewing in 2012. But the building that houses their brew has over 100 years of American brewing history. The original facility housed Mission Brewery, which operated before Prohibition.
- Karl Strauss Brewing Company: Strauss was former vice president of production and reached Master Brewer at Pabst Brewing Company. He, Chris Cramer and Matt Rattner started the first-ever brew pub in San Diego in 1989. It was the first brewery of any type to operate in San Diego since 1953.
- Lagunitas Brewing Company: The brewery that brews in Northern California and Chicago sold a 50% stake to Heineken last September in an effort to expand the brand globally.
- Reverand Nat’s Hard Cider Rev Nat West started making cider in his basement and in the spirit of craft beer geeks, grew it to a business that now distributes in five states.
- Ritual Brewing Company: Redlands brewery founded by Owen Williams and Steve Dunkerken. Williams is the former Brewing Operations Director of BJ’s Brewhouse and Restaurants and teaches Beer & Culture at California Polytechnic University in Pomona. Dunkerken is a Redlands native and long time homebrewer.
Want an extra hour of unlimited tastings from these amazing craft breweries? You’ll want to check out the Friday night Bottle Share & Kick-off Party. Held on March 4th, the Bottle Share event is open to Rhythm, Wine & Brews Experience VIP ticket holders, Sponsors and Press. Make sure you brink one or two 22oz of awesome craft beer to share.
So, what about the headliner? 311’s name originates from the police code for indecent exposure in Omaha, Nebraska, after the original guitarist for the band was arrested for streaking. As of 2011, 311 has sold over 8.5 million records in the US. Never has running around naked in Nebraska proved this profitable. While 311 has called L.A. home for years, the band is orginally from Omaha. With collaboration from the band members and a local brew partner, Rock Brothers partners with fellow Florida brewery, Cigar City on all its bands beers. It's no wonder award winning Nebraska Brewing Company was chosen as the local brew partner to brew the 311 Amber Ale.
“Choosing bands from a variety of genres makes our event appeal to a broad audience,“ said Alex Haagen, IV, producer of the Rhythm, Wine and Brews Experience. “Reggae always draws a big, happy crowd. We added rock, a dash of blues and some funk and think we have an impressive show that everyone will enjoy.” He added, “We’ve woven together live music, craft beer and wine tasting, a variety of amazing food offerings, colorful art installations, circus performers and an incredible venue to create a real ‘experience.’ Come on out and have a great time!”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Base Camp 2016 - Indio, CA
ANAHEIM, CA, February 23, 2016 / - - LTMA Experiential Production announces Base Camp, a new "off-site" RV & camping experience taking place in Indio, California over three festival weekends; April 14-18, April 21-25 & April 28-May 2, 2016.
Base Camp is located on a 40-acre ranch property and features camping, swimming, music, art, lake cruises and much more.
Blue Lake, CA – Mad River Brewing Company is excited to announce that Tom Del Sarto has joined their team as CEO. Del Sarto comes to Mad River with over 35 years of experience in the beer business. He began his career at Coors West Distributing on the San Francisco peninsula working his way up to Vice President/Managing Partner before transitioning his team to South Bay Beverage, the Miller/Coors distributorship in Santa Clara County.
Del Sarto is replacing Charlie Jordan, who has accepted a leadership position with a virtually located company that allows her more flexibility to spend time with family. “It is a very exciting time at Mad River right now,” said Ms. Jordan. “I am grateful to the owners for trusting me to lead the company through several changes including the completion of a brand refresh.”
For the past eight years, Del Sarto has provided consulting services to the beverage industry with a focus on the craft beer segment and distribution. On his decision to take the helm at one of California’s first craft breweries, Del Sarto states, “Mad River has a great product and great people. I feel that my experience on both the distributor and supplier side can help grow the business in the evolving craft beer market.”
Recent growth at the award-winning brewery also includes the addition of a kitchen to the Mad River Tap Room. The popular brew pub offers a family friendly environment with a variety of tasty cuisine for all ages, and local bands are featured on most nights. The outside beer garden welcomes pets and offers plenty of sunshine to enjoy your Mad River brew with family and friends.
About Mad River Brewing Company:
Built in Humboldt County in 1989, Mad River is an award-winning craft brewery and one of the first in California. Their distinct ales are renowned for their unique flavor profile and consistent quality. Their flagship brand, Steelhead Extra Pale Ale, and their John Barleycorn Barleywine have received gold medals at The Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the industry’s most prominent award. In 2010, Mad River Brewery was select as the “Small Brewery of the Year” by the GABF. The brewery produces a broad array of beer styles and flavor profiles.
San Diego is world renowned for producing amazingly high quality beer that has encouraged new comers to be creative and push beer style limits to new heights.
San Diego’s legacy breweries like Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Co., Ballast Point, Green Flash Brewing Company and AleSmith Brewing Company have a stellar reputation for brewing consistently great craft beers over nearly a century, collectively.
Driven by nature’s unpredictability and culinary expression, experienced brewers are adapting traditional European techniques to bring bursts of intentionally tart and tangy flavors in beers as luminous as an autumn sunset.
In the mid-nineteenth century, back when beer was aged and shipped in wooden barrels, before the advent of refrigeration, nearly all beer was – on some levels - sour.
Practicing patience and an artful curiosity, sours can take up to two to three years to produce. But the wait is worth its weight in golden, deep amber and coppery-orange colored beers.
All hail Pediococcus, Lactobacillus, and Brettanomyces. The remarkable flavors in sour ales can be attributed to these wild yeast strains.
With bright flavors and carbonated mouthfeels of champagne and lemonade, these rising stars of the beer world are perfect for warmer months.
Just a couple hours south of the Coachella Valley, sour specialists, Lost Abbey Brewery, hand bottles every sour beer, eight bottles at a time. Their 2015 Framboise de Amorosa is coming out in July. In northern California, Russian River ages each batch of beer in a specific type of wine barrel (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon). And over in the Great Lakes region, Jolly Pumpkin is the only brewery that ages every beer.
While Lost Abbey, Russian River and Jolly Pumpkin have been wreaking sensory havoc for over 30 years collectively, the following Southern California breweries are helping to lead the sour resurgence, on varying and awesomely quirky levels.
The Bruery: A Chat with Benjamin Weiss
Benjamin is The Bruery’s Marketing Director and the brewery’s second ever employee. The Bruery just celebrated their 7th year in May.
Benjamin became a professional brewer at The Bruery in 2008, just two years after starting to homebrew in Los Angeles. He eventually became the brewer on the infamous Black Tuesday.
EP: What’s your background brewing sours?
BW: I just drank them. Brewing them is pretty much the same as anything, you’re just fermenting slightly differently...most of our sours are aged in a used wine barrel, most of them nowadays, actually, primary fermentation starts in an oak barrel, then we rack into smaller oak barrels.
EP: Do you have any particular favorite wineries you like to get your barrels from?
BW: No, as far as the sour beers, we get the barrels from wineries, but we’re really using a neutral barrel. We clean them out…so as long as they’re newer, solid barrels, we’re happy with them. (pic: Cambria Griffith courtesy The Bruery)
EP: What do you love about sours?
Wow, that’s a good question. I don’t know. I’ve loved sours since I’ve first tried them back in my homebrew meeting about 10 years ago. I don’t know, there’s just something, when you have a good sour, there’s something complex and delicious about it. Like most of our sours are not purely lactic fermentation. They’re not just one note. It’s hard to describe, it’s almost a clean sour taste...also the funkiness that you can get from different strains of Brett that comes with time. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of time…I find them just fascinating.
EP: What do you think of the resurgence, or popularity of sours?
BW: Yeah. It’s crazy. I was just commenting to one of my coworkers that, we were at some festival, that five years ago, every single person that came up to you, you had to explain what a sour beer was…now almost everyone walks up and says, ‘oh you have a sour beer?’. It’s completely the opposite. At least with the beer crowd. It’s still a very, very small segment of beer. But within the craft beer aficionado community, it’s increasingly more popular.
EP: What are some of your favorites from The Bruery and why?
BW: One of my favorites we make is Rueuze, our kind of Gueuze style…it’s gotten a little bit better every year. It has that funky character that I like.
Gueuze is a type of lambic made by blending young (1-year-old) and old (2- to 3-year-old) lambics, which is then bottled for a second fermentation.
Rueuze is a blend of their sour blonde ale from several of their oak barrels, some of which have been aging several months, some several years. Notes of apricots, peach, lemon and bright barnyard funk flavors come through – perfect for summer. The Bruery Terreux suggests pairing it with smoked salmon with fresh goat’s cheese. I definately agree with that.
EP: What are some of your upcoming plans?
BW: We’re launching a tasting room for Bruery Terreux [in Anaheim] hopefully at the end of this year, if not early next year. And we’re just going full steam ahead. Coming out soon, we’ve got a Jester King collaboration and a Prairie collaboration at Terreux.
Bruery Terreux is a new-ish brand, loosely translating to “Earthy Bruery” in French. Developed by Patrick Rue of The Bruery, it’s a new space that focuses solely on their farmhouse-style ales fermented with the wild yeasts. (pic: Cambria Griffith courtesy The Bruery)
The Jester King collaboration will be coming out in about two months.
Firestone Walker: A Brewery in Wine Country
The “accidental” story of Barrelworks is a beautifully tasty one. The story of renegade brewers Matt Brynildson,“Sour Jim” and Jeffers Richardson has grown from its humble beginnings in 2005 to over 1,500 barrels, just south of Paso Robles, in Buellton.
Jeffers is the Director of Barrelworks (aka “Barrelmeister”).
EP: What’s your fascination with sours?
JR: I love how it contributes depth and complexity to beer. Acidity ads a whole new dimension of flavor to beer…and plays teasingly with wild yeast and oak, when those components are involved.
EP: How long have you been experimenting with sours?
JR: My palate has been experimenting with acidified beers since 1985, when I lived in Brussels and first tried them. But I didn’t become comfortable with wild beer production until I teamed up with Jim. I'm old school. I was indoctrinated in the ways of clean beer practices. Once we were given our own padded room [facility], and the inmates were allowed to run it, I was more comfortable. Jim, on the other hand has been a certifiable experimenter of sours for some time.
Masterblender, Jim Crooks – aka Sour Jim- started making wild beers in local wine barrels. This innovative and unprecedented barrelhouse is the birth house of several of the wildly coveted beers being poured annually at the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival, held every May.
What does "Sour Jim" love about sours?
My main love for sours stem from our choice to embrace the funk, and more importantly, the continuous learning curve that is brought about by the use of Brettanomyces and acid forming bacteria in our products. Using these agents to produce truly unique beers constantly test the theory of how fermentation, barrel aging, and flavor/aroma of each strain can be so wildly unpredictable and unique.
Their Agrestic (2014) is based on Fireston's original flagship beer, Double Barrel Ale, or DBA, which then underwent a “chrysalis” process involving 87% French and 13% American Oak barrels and a proprietary collection of micro flora. It spends 14 months there. This sour leans towards the punker, tropical and oaky side of things and is brewed with B. lambicus, L. lindneri and L. brevis. The nose and taste bring citrus along with a gorgeous mix of coconut, vanilla and spice.
According to Jeffers, the acidity in a beer should enhance and support other aspects of the beer.
“We want to build layers of complexity.”
Sour Opal is an American Gueuze style with a Titratable Acidity (T.A.) of 6.6 g/L. You’ll notice on the Firestone Walker Barrelworks labels this acidity, which is something that currently, no other brewery divulges. With their home in wine country, Firestone Walker has adapted traditions and techniques from their winery friends.
La Piccola is a new collaborative cross-continental dark Saison that was featured at the Firestone Walker Beer Invitational in May. The collaboration between brewmasters Agostino Arioli of Birrificio Italiano and Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker resulted in two very similar beers. Agostino brewed his version with Sichuan peppercorns, sourced directly from a spice hunter in Italy.
Bretta Weisse will be in bottles July 25th. Agrestic and Krieky Bones will be available August 22nd. And the wild brewers also have a Hood River Strawberry Saison in the works.
Coachella Valley Brewing: Pucker Up in the Desert
Chris Anderson has been brewing up his sour program in Thousand Palms over the past year.
EP: What sours are on tap now?
On tap now is the Peche, an American wild ale with locally grown white peaches and pediococcus, lactic and multiple Brettanomyces cultures. Tasters are $3 and there’s only one keg left.
Also pick up a bottle of the special Framboys, wild ale brewed with raspberries and boysenberries. It's decedent.
EP: When did you start this, or think about starting to brew sours?
CA: We immediately started getting into that mode when we had the capacity to store that type of a beer. We got a bunch of tanks dedicated just for making sour beers. That was probably about a year ago. That was kind of the inception of the first couple sour bases that we use to make a couple different beers with a batch of different fruits.
EP: How many tanks?
CA: We have three right now. We immediately made a sour base which is your run of the mill wheat beer and used some really old hops, which is typical of sour beers. You want to use old, cheesy, skanky hops, rather than the real aromatic ones. You don’t want that to shine through in the beer. We aged it away, we use a special flora. We have an onsite laboratory here that we can do micro – we built our own culture, that we inoculate all the barrels with, as well as the wort.
And the sour program at CVB is taking off. Anderson even hinted they might be expanding their sour program – outside of their current space – in the near future.
Their new Profligate Society will feature upcoming sours, Cabernet barrel aged Epineux Poire prickly pear wild ale, Cabernet barrel aged Cassis Noir black currant sour ale and Cabernet barrel aged Flame Rouges wild ale. Less than 500 bottles of each beer will be released to Profligate members.
CA: We have the Flame Rouges, brewed with red vine raisons and red flame grape juice. That’s fermenting in the barrel now. We’ll be releasing it late this year, probably Fall…we’ve got a guava one fermenting, too.
EP: What do you love about sours?
"I don’t know, it’s kind of mysterious ya’ know? A little unorthodox. It’s the opposite of everything you’re told as a brewer, even the way the mash is done. The long aging, and you still may not get really high quality results…and it’s all about blending too."
And Anderson has blending experience, having won homebrew medals for his sours, before becoming a commercial brewer. He would sweep these categories in competitions.
Hangar 24 – New Sours are Landing
Hangar’s new sours First Crush and Sanguinello are launching this Saturday.
"First Crush" is a Sour Red Ale aged in red wine barrels with Syrah grape juice, there will be 2,300 bottles. The addition of Syrah grape juice after primary fermentation adds vinous, tannic notes of red wine, ripe fruit and leather.
“Sanguinello” is a sour blonde aged in white wine barrels with blood orange juice. They squeezed the juice of blood oranges into Sauvignon Blanc barrels, which held nine and eighteen month old sour blonde ale. There will be only 1,200 bottles. (Hangar pix: Hanger 24 Brewery)
When venturing into your sour quest, don’t miss out on the much-revered Cantillon Brewery, Drie Fonteinen, Allagash Brewing, Side Project, Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, Cascade Brewing, Almanac Beer Co., The Rare Barrel or Mikkeller.
While sours still make up a relatively small portion of the craft beers that are available, they are becoming more and more prevalent - in small batches.
Sours are brewers way of coloring outside the lines. Get funky and join the wild, wild yeast of the beer world.